Here’s an interesting philosophical question. What do you shout when your team scores a goal?
“Yeeeeeeeeeessssssssss” does it for me. In moments of high excitement I may add “Goooooooaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllll.” In moments of very high excitement I may well run round the house telling the whole family, whether they’re interested or not (which they’re not, obviously).
Tom – the newly minted football nut and Liverpool fan – seems to need to express his feelings rather more strongly. And he’s more aggressive than I am. “Yeeeeeeeeeesssssssssss,” he yells. Then “Get in!”
Sometimes he adds a word before “get in”. I’m writing this on Sunday morning: I don’t think I need to share the word with you.
So it was on Easter Sunday. Tom was firmly encamped on the sofa, waiting for Liverpool to kick off against Norwich.
“You don’t need to occupy the sofa two hours before kick-off, Tom.”
“It’s the build-up, dad, you don’t understand.”
No, no, of course I don’t. I’ve only been watching football since England won the World Cup. If there’s anyone left alive who can remember that far back…
“Anyway, I’m in the garden helping your Mother. Give me a shout if anything happens.”
Possibly the most superfluous thing I’ve ever said. We were just discussing where to plant the rosemary when the air was rent by the cry of a madman.
“Yeeeeessssss. Get in! ”
“Liverpool have scored,” I said.
“Really?” my wife replied.
Five minutes later they scored again. “I’m sorry,” I said to Jane. “If Liverpool win this they’re more or less guaranteed the title.”
“I’m used to it,” she said.
“You can’t be, he’s only been home from a month.”
“Right. And I’ve lived with you for twenty years.”
What? Naturally I pointed out to my wife that she was mistaken. Anyone who’s watched a match on TV with me will know that I discuss the game intelligently. Appreciate good play from the other team. And above all, accept the result graciously…
Unfortunately she called an expert witness. “Ben? What do you say?”
Blimey. It was The Curious Case of the Black Towel all over again. The wretched boy did for me a second time. “Uncanny,” he said. “It’s you, dad. You can’t tell who’s who.”
He gave the knife another twist when I went up to his bedroom ten minutes later. “It’s like you’re in two places at once, dad. You’re here: your doppelganger is downstairs watching football.”
“No, Ben,” I said firmly. “It’s not like I’m in two places at once. It’s like there’s a calm, sane person removing pots from your bedroom and there’s a lunatic downstairs yelling at the TV.”
“No, dad,” he said. “Mum’s right.”
I swear to you she is not right. But they’ve decided.
The kangaroo court has convened and delivered its verdict.
Evening found me walking the dog. And wondering. Ben and Jane were clearly wrong, but supposing – just supposing – they were right?
Supposing Tom was me when he watched a football match? After all, I did have one or two traits of my dad’s…
Did that mean Jessica was fated to patrol the touchline in 20 years time, watching her daughter play football? I could hear her shouting now. “Don’t stand for that, Charlie. Give her a good kicking. Awesome! Good girl!”
And I could see the over-zealous official marching across to her. ‘The league doesn’t condone that type of encouragement. Would you go and wait in your car?’
There she was, trudging away – the first mum to get a red card in the under-9s girls’ league. And I could see her raising her middle finger to Heaven – and hear her shouting, ‘It’s all your damn fault…’